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Both sides showed attacking endeavour throughout the game to score three tries each in the stifling heat, however a penalty from Freddie Burns 15 minutes from time was enough for Gloucester to clinch the victory.
Irish made the perfect start to the game, scoring the opening try in the first minute. Tongan number 8 Chris Hala’ufia caught the ball in his own half before surprising everyone with his very own up and under kick, which he chased down well to put pressure on Olly Morgan. The Gloucester full back sent a long pass intended for Charlie Sharples which was read beautifully by Alex Gray who intercepted the pass and galloped in under the posts. Tom Homer kicked the easy conversion to give Irish a dream start.
Gloucester replied with a penalty from fly half Tim Taylor and then a try from man of the match winger, Tom Voyce, who dived in at the corner after good initial work from Henry Trinder. Tim Taylor added the conversion to put Gloucester in front 10-7.
Taylor added his second penalty of the game before Homer responded with his first of the match to cut the deficit to three points. In a half where there was not a lot to choose between the two sides, the one advantage Gloucester did seem to have was at scrum time. Just passed the half hour mark this dominance was rewarded by referee Greg Garner who went under the posts to award a penalty try as the Exiles failed to withstand the home side’s pressure. Taylor added the conversion and for the first time in the game there was daylight between the two sides.
Toby Booth’s side needed to respond before half time and they duly did with a fantastic try from Topsy Ojo. Irish had a spell of possession where they didn’t seem to be going anywhere, that was until Ojo sprang into action taking a sublime pop pass from Dan Bowden to go flying through a gang of defenders to dive under the posts. Tom Homer kicked the conversion to see Irish cut Gloucester’s lead to just six points at half time.
Irish made the better start to the second half and were on the board inside two minutes through a penalty from Tom Homer. The men in green were in the lead moments later with the best try of the game. The arrival of Faan Rautenbach solidified the Irish scrum and saw his side steal a scrum against the Gloucester pack which is a rarity at Kingsholm. Darren Allinson put in a box kick down the left hand touch line that was brilliantly chased by Adam Thompstone who was able to tackle the player and turn the ball over. From the resulting quick ball, Steven Shingler picked a beautiful line off Jonathan Joseph to score his first London Irish try. Homer kicked the conversion to give Irish the lead again.
As the game ebbed and flowed it was Gloucester who came back again to score their third try of the game and it was hooker Darren Dawidiuk who finished well in the corner to regain the lead for his side. Tim Taylor converted to put Gloucester three points in front.
Homer levelled the game at 30 points all just before the hour mark before Gloucester’s replacement fly half Freddie Burns came on to kick what turned out to be the match winning penalty.
Irish did have chances at the end to clinch victory, however the bounce of the ball did not go their way and Gloucester held on for the win.
London Irish host Worcester Warriors at the Madejski Stadium next Sunday.
Score Sequence: (London Irish first) 7-0,7-3, 7-10, 7-13, 10-13, 10-16, 10-23, 17-23, 20-23, 27-23, 27-30, 30-30, 30-33
Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Gray (1), Ojo (37), Shingler (46); Conversions: Homer 3; Penalties: Homer 3 Gloucester: Tries: Voyce (9), Penalty Try (32), Dawidiuk (47); Conversions Taylor 3; Penalties: Taylor 3, Burns
Gloucester: 15. Morgan; 14. Sharples, 13. Trinder, 12. May, 11. Voyce (rep: James Simpson-Daniel, 69); 10. Taylor (rep: Freddie Burns, 60), 9. Runciman (rep: Dave Lewis, 52); 1. Wood (rep: Dario Chistolini, 66), 2. Dawidiuk (rep: Matias Cortese, 69), 3. Harden; 4. Savage, 5. James; 6.Buxton (capt), 7. Narraway, 8.Deacon.
Replacements: 16. Cortese, 17. Murphy, 18. Chistolini, 19. Lyons, 20. Evans, 21. Lewis, 22.Burns, 23. Simpson-Daniel.
London Irish: 15. Homer; 14. Ojo, 13. Joseph (rep: Guy Armitage, 64), 12. Shingler, 11. Thompstone; 10. Bowden, 9. Allinson (rep: Paul Hodgson, 64); 1. Dermody (capt), 2. Paice (rep: James Buckland, 71), 3. Lahiff (rep: Faan Rautenbach, 44); 4. Kennedy, 5. Sandford (rep: Declan Danaher, 48) ; 6. Evans, 7. Gray, 8. Hala'ufia (sin bin, 29-39 rep: Jamie Gibson, 60)
Replacements: 16. Buckland, 17.George, 18. Rautenbach, 19. Danaher, 20. Gibson, 21.Armitage, 22.Jarvis, 23. Hodgson
Referee: Greg Garner